Forget herbicide or pulling weeds. St. Paul is enlisting the help of goats in its efforts to rid the Mississippi riverfront of invasive species.

Over the next several months, 30 goats will meander inside fenced-in sections of parkland along the Mississippi River in St. Paul to eat unwanted vegetation such as buckthorn. The goats serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to other clean-up methods.

This is the city’s first try at reining in the spread of invasive species using the animals.

The goats, which come from rental company Goat Dispatch, are well-suited for the job because they can easily navigate the steep bluff-edge terrain, are lightweight and love to snack on brushy, woody vegetation, according to the city.

The clean-up is a joint effort between St. Paul’s Great River Passage team and the city’s Natural Resources Section. The Great River Passage is the city’s long-term plan for its 26 miles of Mississippi riverfront.

The goats will have their first meal on Monday afternoon along the bluff edge at Indian Mounds Regional Park.


Haley Hansen is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.